Lloyd's Maritime and Commercial Law Quarterly


David Capper *


Northern Ireland

103. AB (A person under a disability) v CMcD, EB and FG as personal representatives of HB (deceased) [2020] NICh 10 (NI HC, ChD, Huddleston J)

Proprietary estoppel—partnership

On 23 July 2008, the deceased died intestate, without spouse or issue. The plaintiff (AB) was one of his brothers and, on account of his being a vulnerable adult, was represented in these proceedings by the Official Solicitor. There were ten brothers, six of whom, including AB, were still living. The defendants were the deceased’s nieces, the children of QB, one of the surviving brothers. The defendants were the deceased’s personal representatives and were administering the deceased’s estate in a manner which the plaintiff alleged ignored his legal and beneficial interest in the estate assets. Specifically, the plaintiff claimed that he was the beneficial owner of a dwelling house that was registered in the name of the deceased and in which the plaintiff had lived all of his life. He also claimed to have been the business partner of the deceased and thus entitled to a 50 per cent share of several properties which he said were partnership assets. The dwelling house had belonged to the plaintiff’s father and passed to his mother on his father’s death intestate. She in turn passed title to the deceased around 1990. From around 1967, the plaintiff and the deceased worked together in the purchase and development of small sites, building properties which they mainly sold but some of which they retained as an investment portfolio let out to tenants. These properties were in the name of the deceased. Documentary evidence of the existence of the alleged partnership was notably scant, although whatever there was suggested that business activities ceased around the late 1980s or early 1990s.
Decision: The plaintiff’s partnership claim fails for want of evidence of the existence of any partnership between the brothers, as well as the absence of reliable proof that the properties of which the plaintiff claimed a share were partnership assets.
Held: The plaintiff claimed to be entitled to the dwelling house on the ground of proprietary estoppel. He alleged that his parents and the deceased assured him that the property was his and that he had expended money on the property. Three of the plaintiff’s brothers gave evidence against their interest in the deceased’s estate that it was understood


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